Things to Do in Santa Barbara

There are so many exciting things to do in Santa Barbara, the hardest part is narrowing down your vacation itinerary. Experience the best of coastal Southern California in a city that offers something for die-hard foodies, outdoor enthusiasts, nature lovers and history buffs. And if you’re looking for a vacation rental close to all the biggest attractions, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Casago.

Boasting a mild Mediterranean climate, Santa Barbara welcomes visitors with charming Old-World beauty, gorgeous beaches and activities for all interests and budgets. Situated in the golden foothills 90 miles north of Los Angeles, the city has been aptly labeled “The American Riviera.” A-listers vacation in Santa Barbara all the time — or purchase second homes here – for good reason. There are dozens of buzz-worthy wineries to visit, designer boutiques and excellent restaurants at every turn.

Things to Do in Santa Barbara

Plan Things to Do on Your Trip to Santa Barbara


Santa Barbara Restaurants

When it comes to dining out, Santa Barbara is a world-class destination. State Street in downtown Santa Barbara is the epicenter for noteworthy restaurants, and is packed with informal eateries and dining venues that dish up delicious cuisine from all parts of the world. From Mexican cantinas and sushi to award-winning steak houses, you’ll be spoiled for choice.

“Restaurant Row” extends several blocks and includes the lively Santa Barbara Public Market – a great place for a quick bite—as well as numerous top-rated restaurants. Experience amazing wine country cuisine at Bouchon, where fresh, seasonal ingredients take center stage. Other cherished fine-dining establishments include Olio e Limone Ristorante, Ca’ Dario, Toma Restaurant and Bar and Bella Vista at Four Seasons.

Santa Barbara Zoo

The Santa Barbara Zoo is a perfect outing for young families. Once owned by a wealthy coffee and tea trader, this lush 30-acre estate is now home to more than 500 wild animals including lions, snow leopards, gorillas, meerkats, giraffes, penguins, gibbons, alligators and African elephants.

The manicured trails are easy to navigate with young kids and feature dozens of open-air, naturalistic habitats. Surrounded by spectacular mountain scenery, the zoo has lots of family programming and events including a miniature train ride, giraffe feeding, live stage shows, barnyard area where you can pet and feed sheep, and an optional behind-the-scenes tour! The zoo is open daily from 10 AM to 5 PM, and has an on-site gift shop and restaurant that serves up kid-friendly meals.

Santa Barbara Wineries

Santa Barbara County has more than 200 wineries, thanks to its unique micro-climates and rich soils that help produce a wide array of high quality grapes. Many Santa Barbara wineries specialize in Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Syrah along with lesser varietals, and with 170 wine tasting rooms, you have opportunities to try them all! There are several reputable companies that offer chauffeured wine tours to the region’s best spots, letting you indulge in highly acclaimed reds and whites with total freedom. Be sure to check out these top-notch vineyards, as rated by the California winery advisor:

  • Saarlos and Sons
  • Presq’uile Winery
  • Bridlewood Winery
  • Fess Parker Winery and Vineyard
  • Rusack Vineyards
  • Sunstone Winery
  • Brander Vineyard

Santa Barbara Beach Guide

Whether you want a peaceful spot to sunbathe or a beautiful setting for a family BBQ, there’s a sun-kissed beach awaiting in Santa Barbara. Many of the city’s leisure-time favorites feature picnic tables, playgrounds, horseshoe pits, showers, nearby restaurants, free parking and other amenities. If your vacation plans include a day of fun in the sun, here are some terrific beaches to take in the cool ocean breezes:

  • East Beach – Close to Chase Palm Park and local hotels, East Beach has biking and rollerblading trails, picnic facilities, volleyball courts and is a great beach for swimming.
  • Leadbetter Beach – Located near Shoreline Park, Leadbetter is a popular beach for stand-up paddle boarding, windsurfing and boogie boarding. The area has built-in BBQ grills and an adjacent restaurant.
  • Goleta Beach Park – Escape the crowds and unwind at this scenic park, outfitted with picnic tables, horseshoe pits, grills, kayak rentals and volleyball courts.
  • Arroyo Burro Beach County Park – Locally known as “Hendry’s Beach,” this walkable stretch of picturesque coastline welcomes four-legged companions, has a small picnic area, bathrooms, a dog wash station, and a very good seafood restaurant.

Santa Barbara Shopping

The pedestrian-friendly State Street Plaza welcomes visitors with a tantalizing range of shopping choices, including locally-owned indie boutiques, souvenir shops, art galleries, and national department chains.

For a healthy dose of retail therapy and gourmet eats, head to Paseo Nuevo, an open-air mall just off State Street. Gift shops, consignment stores and specialty outlets are scattered around the downtown area, with a large concentration in De La Guerra Plaza and Arlington Plaza as well.

From artisan crafts and high fashion to exquisite home furnishings and antiques, you’ll soon discover why Santa Barbara is a veritable Mecca for shopping. For a one-of-a-kind souvenir, be sure to stop by the Santa Barbara Museum of Art Store, which sells interesting books, family games, handcrafted jewelry, toys and more.

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